Mobile Health Technology: Results of HIMSS Survey on Usage

December 11, 2011
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Having just celebrated the world’s sixth billionth connection, mobile health (mHealth) is poised to make a grand splash in the public health arena.  The term mHealth was coined by Professor Robert Istepanian as the use of “emerging mobile communications and network technologies for healthcare.”  With advances in the development of mobile technologies and applicat

Having just celebrated the world’s sixth billionth connection, mobile health (mHealth) is poised to make a grand splash in the public health arena.  The term mHealth was coined by Professor Robert Istepanian as the use of “emerging mobile communications and network technologies for healthcare.”  With advances in the development of mobile technologies and applications, growth in cellular networks and new opportunities to integrate mobile health care delivery, there is no denying the transformative nature of this medium.

In celebration of the recent mHealth Summit, HIMMS has published it’s 1st Annual Mobile Technology Survey.  According to the report, key survey results include:

  • Maturity of Mobile Technology Environment: Respondents characterized their environment at a middle rate of maturity, with an average score of 3.88 on a scale of one to seven, where one is not at all mature and seven is a high level of maturity.
  • Mobile Technology Policy: Existing mobile technology policies cover a wide variety of information, from tools needed to secure devices, use of personal devices for work purposes and the types and brands of mobile devices to be used at an organization.
  • Clinical Access to Data: Respondents were most likely to report that clinicians at their organizations use apps either to look up non-PHI health information (such as accessing clinical guidelines) or to view patient information. Respondents were much less likely to report that clinicians used their mobile devices to interactively record patient data.
  • Access to Data from Off-Site Locations: Three-quarters of respondents indicated that their organizations allow clinicians to access clinical data via a mobile device using a public network with approved security, such as a VPN.
  • Benefits of Using Mobile Technology: Respondents were most likely to identify improved access to patient information and the ability to view data from a remote location as key benefits to the use of mobile technology at their organizations.
  • Barriers to Mobile Technology Use: Inadequate privacy and security was most frequently identified by survey respondents as a barrier to the use of mobile technology at their organization. When asked to identify the top concerns of reported to them by clinicians, respondents were most likely to report speed of accessing data.
  • Use of Personal Devices: Slightly less than half of respondents noted that their organization supports personal devices owned by the end-user but are enabled by the organization to support daily work activities.
  • Means for Securing Data on Mobile Devices: Most respondents offer a variety of methods for securing data on mobile devices at their organizations. Passwords are the most widespread security device in place.

As a tool directed primarily to health information management and hospital personnel, it is promising to note the survey’s estimated clinical utilization rate.  While mobile technology appears to be actively used inside the confines of the hospital, one has to wonder if it is being implemented in the roughly 220,000 physician offices throughout the US?  Dr. William Riley, Chair of the NIH mHealth Interest Group, had these thoughts to share:

Taking into account Dr. Riley’s comments, what could be a tsunami of change is, for now, a mere gurgling stream.

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